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Travel Wisdom

Food to Watch out for When Travelling

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We need to eat to survive but not all food is created equal. In addition to some food being terrible for us in regards to nutrition, some food should be only eaten by locals who are used to whatever went into making it. Kind of unfair, isn’t it?

There are a lot of great types of food out there that people travel from all over the world to try but they shouldn’t if they want to avoid getting sick. Many countries have perfectly fine standards of sanitation and food preparation, such as most European nations and North America, but travelling through South America, Africa or Southeast Asia may not be so harmless. Do your research before you go to be sure you know what is safe to eat to avoid catching something nasty, or at the very least, serious bowel problems.

Fresh Fruit

“What? Fruit is our friend! I love fruit – screw you!” – if this is your reaction to this warning, then uh, go right ahead and eat all the fresh local fruit you possibly can. In fact, eat only fresh fruit because it’s not like that’s bad for you at all, even if it’s stuff you eat every day. What will likely happen is your stomach will hurt a lot, you’ll get too much sugar and later on, when you’re strapped to the toilet emptying a slurry of nastiness, just think back to my warning and curse my name. Please do so – it gives me power.

spicy_foodOverly Spicy Things

I know what you’re thinking – I have an iron gut. Nothing can keep me down and there’s nothing I enjoy more than trying the hottest food I can find. Okay fine, maybe you’re the exception to the rule, but generally if you are looking to not have a wasted day or pain or have your ass on fire, spicy food may want to be sampled lightly. It’s not that your mouth can’t handle it, it’s that your insides aren’t used to whatever different ingredient it’s ingesting that is different enough from the standard fare to make your life miserable.

Street Food

It’s almost criminal that food on the street is so good but oh so wrong for you in so many ways. On top of there being a lot of just plain unhealthy food sold in this way, a great number of cheaper travel destinations will offer this kind of food with the added benefit of lax sanitary conditions or fun filled parasites. If you were staying in a place for a long period of time your body could get used to what’s in the food and you’d have no problems, but for a few days or even a week, it’s best to just avoid it.

There are plenty of exotic foods on the streets of Asia. Some of it might not seem like it would be agreeable to enjoyable upon first glance, but you never know until you try it. Bangkok has an incredible selection of street foods, and you can get some quality local food if you know where to look. Check out an online travel guide when visiting Bangkok and read some reviews of street vendors to give yourself an informed decision.  It can’t hurt to try something new every once in a while, right?

The Water

Advice as old as time itself – don’t drink the water. There are many countries or regions within a country that just don’t have safe drinking water due to sanitary conditions or any number of other issues. This is true for food washed in the water as well, so fresh produce should be avoided as well. Again, just like with anything, you can get used to it if you are there long enough but all inclusive vacations or flight stopovers are the worst times to try and see how strong your constitution is.

Travel Wisdom

Who Cares if It’s a Foreign Chain – It’s Delicious!

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There are few things more region specific than food, which is why it’s not unusual for people to vacation to regions known for a particular type of food. It’s known to them, they like it and they look forward to the authentic experience. Of course once they arrive they realize that while the locals do eat differently than they do, there is a love for foreign chain restaurants, particularly American ones, that cannot be denied.

This upsets many people for a number of reasons. One is that they have travelled far away to escape the every day and have instead run right into the arms of the familiar. Another reason is this perception that, like back home, chain restaurants have taken away from independent ones and have homogenized the dining industry. Finally though, and most often is the case, people are upset because it ruins the idealistic image they have of other cultures as being above the whole chain thing. We westerners are decadent and have eschewed priorities – other cultures are above that!

Except they’re not. Sure, some chains just don’t work in some countries either because it’s facing competition from an existing, local favourite, or because the tastes of the locals don’t match those of the foreigners. What this fails to recognize is chain restaurants exist because they are successful and they would not be successful if people did not enjoy the product they create.

mega-teriyaki-macThere are thousands of sushi restaurants in Tokyo but McDonalds still thrives. Doughnut shops and coffee shops aren’t hard to find but Krispy Kreme and Starbucks are successful as alternative competition. Is it bad if you visit any of these when you’re in Japan or should you only look for the ‘Japanese’ businesses to patronize?

The answer, of course, is do what you want. These places exist both because the local populace enjoys what is served and so foreigners have something familiar. Except where racial stupidity exists, businesses just want money and they don’t care where it comes from.

If you feel though that you aren’t an authentic traveller because you partake in chain restaurant dining when you should be eating how the locals do, take a look around. You’ll probably notice a lot of locals. Plus, locals are working there – by eating there, you are supporting them. Should you only eat in places you recognize? Of course not – but that goes true for when you’re back home too. It never hurts to break routine and try something different and you don’t need to be away on vacation to do that.

 

Travel Wisdom

The Smells of a Tropical Getaway

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I find the best vacations are those that ignite all of your senses but in particular, it’s the sense of smell that really adds to the appeal. There is a fair body of evidence that suggests your sense of smell is the strongest sense tied to memory, so engaging it is a sure fire way to ensure you have a trip to remember.

All vacations have their familiar smells, regardless of if it’s a backpacking odyssey or a road trip with only periodic emergences. There are smells that are distinct only to certain locales, be it the smell of freshly baked bread in a bakery district or the grotesque but oddly appealing odour of a millennia old sewer system. Those who routinely travel to Australia will surely recognize many of the pleasant smells associated with the area, such as the barbecues, the fresh rain, and the salt water. You will remember these smells for the rest of your life, instantly transporting yourself back there if you get a hint of that smell in your every day life.

Here are a few of the great scents from a tropical vacation that you will bring back home with you!

The Food

Food is one of the great pleasures in life and it isn’t just restricted to the sense of taste – its smell is enough to make you dream of your little island in the sun. The smell of Australian cuisine is sure to bring back fond memories to those who have visited the area, from the leg of lamb roasts to simple fish and chip dishes, the outback has some incredible meals accompanied by pleasant odors. Whether it’s the jerk chicken grilling up on the beach barbecues or delicacies that waft over you upon entering the dining hall, food just makes us feel all over good and it’s a vital part of any tropical getaway.

The Beverages

For some people, this is the only reason they make their way to an all inclusive resort – the seemingly unlimited flow of tropical drinks. With ingredients like pineapple juice, coconut milk and papayas, it’s hard not to start salivating just at the mention of them. Couple those tall cool drinks with a smidgen of rum and you’ve got the recipe for all over good times that start simply by breathing it all in.

palm-tree-beach-006The Beach

Maybe it’s the salty sea air washing over you and penetrating your senses but the smell of a great beach can make all your worried melt away. Nothing beats the brisk ocean air smell of the beaches. Brisbane is a great location for any getaway, whether you’re by yourself or with the family. Go surfing on the Gold Coast or just relax by the beach and take in the beautiful scenery that is, in many ways, unique to Australia. Those who have been to Australia before are in for a pleasant surprise if they decide to return, as the smells of the beach are sure to bring back all the great memories of their first trip. Couple this with the smell of a particular sunscreen you may use for your whole vacation and you’ll be hard pressed not to be immediately reminded of these great times once you’re back home and lathering up!

The Good Times

Do good times have a scent? There are those out there who would say of course not but really, it’s the whole experience that makes a trip memorable and the smell definitely plays a part in that. If you had a memorable time in Australia, then perhaps it is time to consider scheduling another trip to the area. It’s easy to book a trip online, and you’ll surely remember what made your first visit so incredible once those odors hit you again. From the time you set foot on the beach, grab some food or get handed a drink you know you’re in the right place because it just smells perfect and all it takes is one of those smells to hit you back home for you to be transported right back to where it all began.

 

Travel Wisdom

Do Travel Nomads Actually Exist?

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There are a lot of people out there who strive to attain a simplicity in their life that only comes from living in a highly complicated world. Maybe it’s a counter culture to our highly structured, urbanized lives or an actual belief that things were better in an era long gone (so called ‘golden era’ thinking), but this movement to traditional means seldom gets painted in a negative light. At it’s most extreme, it is what we should all strive for but at it’s most basic, it’s held on equal terms as far as what can be boasted about. After all, there are a number of locations in the world that are perfect for the nomadic traveler. Australia, for example, has plenty of great travel destinations like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the travelling community you have a group of people who call themselves nomads that really have no business doing so. Strictly speaking, a nomad is someone who has no home and moves around from place to place as a means of survival. A modern interpretation of this behavior would be the act of booking multiple hotels and hopping from room to room while exploring an exciting new area. There are plenty of affordable hotels in Perth, Sydney or even Melbourne and they are also just a great area to soak in a new culture. The street art and culture in Melbourne is considered to be some of the best in Australia, and nomadic travelers can visit the State Theater or Harner Hall and catch a show. As most people have homes, whether they still reside with their parents or gave up their apartments, and the definition of modern survival is very different than that of the classical nomadic cultures, needless to say the term doesn’t really apply.

Or does it?

I mean, if you are really moving from place to place and find odd jobs as you will to survive then… sure, you’re a travel nomad. Keep in mind, you’ll have to do this until you die and you cannot go back to wherever you came from.

Yes, the travelling community has appropriated this term to describe a type of long term traveller who often seeks out the simple and is constantly learning about life but this is not what a nomad is. Nomads don’t have the luxury to observe for the sake of being enlightened – they are too busy worrying about finding their next meal or avoiding being killed by raiders.

There is nothing wrong with not subscribing to the button down lifestyle of your peers and wanting to light out for the territory, but were it not for those who had done this, you would not be able to make that choice for yourself. Some may choose not to travel outside of their country (or even state) for plenty of reasons, while others may have a strong urge to see the world, to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, to catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife in Brisbane’s Australian Zoo, or perhaps to take in the mind-blowing complexities of Perth’s beautiful public art. Why do you think the nomad way of life gave way to the sedentary one?

It’s fine if people want to call themselves nomads when really they are probably just indecisive flakes who need to feel original by going against the grain, because in actuality, this is probably the new definition of what a nomad is. In fact, I have no problem with people who choose this lifestyle because it ultimately is not for me. In this day and age of online hotel and flight reservations it is not very difficult to travel abroad and see the world like a nomadic individual of the past. All I ask is that you don’t look down on the way I do things because I don’t buy all my food from local organic markets or carbon offset all by travel.

There are many different ways to live – just be thankful that you have that choice.